McCain Will Visit Jackson - - Jackson, MS

St. Paul, MN 08/31/08

McCain Will Visit Jackson

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Republicans scrambled on Sunday to change the tone of their national convention as delegates streamed into town amid scenes on TV of people fleeing Hurricane Gustav on the Gulf Coast.

The White House said the monster storm would make President Bush's opening-day attendance unlikely.

The Republicans' nominee-in-waiting, John McCain , altered his campaign schedule to visit Jackson, Miss., with his running mate, Sarah Palin, to get briefings on the approaching storm. He was invited by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

McCain said in an interview taped on Saturday and aired Sunday on Fox News Sunday that he had conferred by phone with Barbour as well as Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Bob Riley of Alabama and Charlie Crist of Florida.

"I've been talking to all of them," McCain said.

He said the approaching storm had already put a cloud over the convention.

"It just wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster," McCain said.

Still, he said, "I think that we are far, far better prepared than we were the last time."

The Bush White House and Republicans in general are still shadowed by criticism of their handling of relief efforts in after Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and parts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast three years ago. Party leaders fear that televised scenes of celebrations and partying at the convention could subject them to similar criticism now.  

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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